Campaigners pine for Scottish national tree

Scots Pine trees at Glencorse Reservoir in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh. Picture: Toby Williams
Scots Pine trees at Glencorse Reservoir in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh. Picture: Toby Williams
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MSPs are being urged to back a campaign to have the Scots Pine adopted as the national tree for Scotland.

Supporters say it is the “largest and longest-living” tree in the Caledonian Forest and would be the ideal symbol of a “resurgent Scotland”.

A petition lodged at Holyrood calls on MSPs and the Scottish Government to work in tandem with the country’s heritage and environmental bodies to take the proposal on.

It has already met with a 
positive response from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, but officials say there is currently no mechanism to create the new national symbol.

Petitioner Alex Hamilton said: “I believe that the vision of the future of Scotland should include a permanent commitment to our woodlands and natural heritage.

“A clear statement to this effect should be made and, as part of that, I wish to propose that the Scottish Government and Parliament adopts the Scots Pine as the national tree of Scotland.

“The Scots Pine is known and loved by many Scots, and having it as the national symbol will encourage Scottish citizens in assessing, improving and being involved in their environment.”

The English Oak, which can live for hundreds of years, is already widely seen as the national tree of England.

“It is time for Scotland to have its national tree,” Mr Hamilton added.

“The Scots Pine is widely recognised among Scots as being their iconic tree; let the nation unite behind it.”

The proposal met with a warm response from the Scottish Wildlife Trust yesterday.

Chief executive Simon Milne said: “We welcome any initiative to affirm Scotland’s commitment to our natural environment. The pine forest is a quintessential Scottish habitat.

“Pine forests inspire thousands of people every year to value, enjoy and protect the wildlife that lives in them, not least of which is the very Scottish red squirrel.

“Wildlife-rich pine forests contribute towards people’s health and wellbeing and are an iconic part of the country that attract tourists to Scotland.”

A spokesman for the Woodland Trust Scotland said it was too early to say if it could back the call.

But he added: “The Scots Pine is native to Scotland and is the only native pine in Britain. It is found throughout Europe and Asia too.”

But the Forestry Commission Scotland, the national quango which manages Scotland’s forest and woodlands, played down the proposal.

A spokesman said: “Whilst we share Mr Hamilton’s passion for trees and woodlands, we are not aware of any mechanism for designating a ‘national tree of Scotland’.”

PINE FACTS

The timber of the Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) is

one of the strongest softwoods and is widely used in construction and joinery.

It comes in different shapes and colours and is the only native conifer grown commercially.

The Scottish crossbill, below, the only bird to be found exclusively in the UK, is confined to the pine woods.

Pine is the generic name for the tree, but it is also known as the Scots fir, the Guithais (Gaelic), Ochtach (Old Irish) and Giumais (Irish).